In its 100-year history, the TSO has had a total of ten Music Directors, and five of them will be joining us on stage to kick off the centennial celebrations with Celebrate 100: Maestros’ Special Homecoming!
On Saturday, April 9, 2022, Music Director Gustavo Gimeno is joined by four of his predecessors to pay tribute to the TSO’s storied past and vibrant present, in a concert event which points the way forward to our exciting future.
Sir Andrew Davis
TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis (Music Director, 1975–1988) begins the evening with a short work by Hector Berlioz, Roman Carnival Overture. Berlioz is a composer of great significance to the TSO and this particular piece has been conducted by seven of the TSO’s ten Music Directors. Sir Andrew included Roman Carnival Overture on the program for the TSO’s seminal Canadian Odyssey Tour in 1987 which saw the TSO visiting several Northern Ontario cities, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, and Prince George, British Columbia, as well as being the first orchestra to ever perform in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Berlioz’s bright, celebratory music is a perfect opening salvo for this unique concert!
Sir Andrew continues on the podium with the evocative The Walk to the Paradise Garden by Frederick Delius, a work that pays tribute to his British roots, and has been performed by Sir Andrew and the TSO’s second, and longest-serving, Music Director, Sir Ernest MacMillian (1931–1956).
German conductor Günther Herbig (1989–1994), who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, was appointed TSO Music Director after having led the Berlin, Dresden, Dallas, and Detroit Symphonies. Richard Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser is a nod to Herbig’s German background and is a piece that eight of the TSO Music Directors have conducted over the years. Toronto audiences have always greatly appreciated it from its first TSO performance in 1924 with TSO founder Luigi von Kunits (1923–1931).
After intermission, Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1990–2001) takes to the stage with a piece from his Finnish compatriot Jean Sibelius. "Lemminkäinen ja saaren neidor" (Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of the Island) is the first movement from the composer’s symphonic poem based on mythological tales, Lemminkäissarja, Op. 22. It was first introduced to Toronto patrons in 1998, followed by a performance as part of the TSO’s tour with Saraste to Carnegie Hall later that year, and then recorded by the TSO and Saraste in 2000.
TSO Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian (2004–2018) was a strong advocate for New Music and TSO commissions. Many of Chinese-Canadian composer Alexina Louie’s works and other Canadian composers' works were regularly featured in TSO tours. The Ringing Earth was part of 2005 Northern tour and residency, which included a large educational component, connecting communities in Northern Ontario with live orchestral music.
Louie’s short piece is followed by Oundjian’s interpretation of the third movement, "Sárka", from Bedřich Smetena’s symphonic poem Má vlast (“My Fatherland”) to the city of Prague. Oundjian and the TSO performed this piece on a 2014 European tour which included a memorable two-day residency at the Prague Spring Festival. Smetana on the program also pays tribute to two of our Czech-born Music Directors, Karel Ančerl (1969–1972) and Walter Susskind (1957–1964).
Finally, current Music Director Gustavo Gimeno takes the stage to present Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole which dives into Gustavo’s roots as a Spanish-born European conductor. While much of Gustavo’s tenure to date has taken place during the pandemic, his energy, enthusiasm, musical rigour, and forward-trajectory has kept the TSO’s musical standards and musicians’, staff, and patrons’ spirits high.
The TSO’s only other living Music Director, Seiji Ozawa (1965-1969), while not able to join us on April 9, should be recognized for his prodigious gifts and ground-breaking foray into TSO recordings, elevating the TSO to international levels.
While much of our 100th anniversary focuses necessarily on our illustrious past, the TSO always looks toward the future with great anticipation and boundless optimism. Here’s to 100 more years of inspired leadership and glorious music!